Water Justice Activists Demand Action 2nd Anniversary UN Human Right to Water Resolution

 July 28, 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the historic United Nations General Assembly resolution recognizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.

As members of the global water justice movement we are deeply concerned to see little progress being made towards the full implementation of this right as governments aggressively pursue false solutions to the environmental and economic crises that will only deepen the water injustices that our organizations and communities have been fighting for decades. 


In March 2012, in collaboration with the Blue Planet Project, our organizations produced a series of reports examining key obstacles to the implementation of the human right to water in Argentina, Ecuador, Canada, Colombia, Europe, Indonesia, India, Palestine and the United States. These reports were written as regional chapters to the report Our Right to Water: A People's Guide to Implementing the United Nations' Recognition of Water and Sanitation as a Human Right<http://canadians.org/water/documents/RTW/RTW-intl-web.pdf> by Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians and former Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The Rio + 20 discussions have affirmed full and unquestioned consensus among UN Member States regarding the human right to water and sanitation. We are therefore demanding the full implementation of this vital human right, and remedies to the tremendous obstacles we are facing in all of our regions.

These reports provide several regionally-specific recommendations to ensure the progressive realization of the human right to water and sanitation in the face of:

1. Bad mining: Large-scale destruction by mining companies that have undermined national initiatives to protect the environment and strategic sources of water, such as glaciers, in regions like Argentina and Ecuador. 

See the report about mining in Argentina by FOCO at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Argentina-1.pdf

Learn more about the legislative changes in Ecuador and mining at http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Ecuador-1.pdf 

2. International financial institutions and Structural Adjustment: Persistent pressure from international financial institutions to transform domestic policies in order to promote deregulation and privatization of services in Indonesia and India.

See the report by KruHa regarding Indonesia: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Indonesia-1.pdf

See the report by the National Alliance of People's Movements about India at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-India-1.pdf

3. Austerity: The European troika has used the economic crisis as a pretext to pressure governments to adopt austerity measures in Portugal, Greece and elsewhere in Europe.

See the report by Food and Water Europe, EPSU, PSIRU, Za Zemiata (Bulgaria), EYATh (Greece), Forum italiano dei movimenti per l'acqua (Italy), Portuguese labour and environmental groups through the Comissão Promotora «Água é de todos", Spanish environmental groups including Engineers without Borders Catalunya and Ecologistas en Accion, and the Blue Planet Project:


4. Free Trade Agreements: Trade agreements have been used to entrench corporate rights and undermine local democracy in Canada.

See the report by the Council of Canadians at: http://canadians.org/water/documents/RTW/righttowater-CA-0611.pdf

5. A history of colonization and environmental racism: The right to water and sanitation of Indigenous communities, communities of colour and people living under occupation in the United States, Palestine and Colombia have been severely undermined.

See the report by Food and Water Watch at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-US-1.pdf

Learn more about land grabs and environmental racism in Colombia at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Colombia-1.pdf

See the report by Life Source at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Palestine-1.pdf

 6. Privatization and commodification of water: A popular campaign in Colombia has achieved significant victories despite a hostile political environment. 

See the report by Penca de Sabila at: http://www.blueplanetproject.net/documents/RTW/RTW-Colombia-Javier-1.pdf

On this second anniversary of the human right to water, we are collectively appealing to the internationally community and our own governments to take action on the implementation of the Human Right to Water and sanitation.

Our demands: 

1. Public Financing

We call on States to make the financing of public and community-owned water and sanitation systems through progressive taxation a priority. Furthermore, we call for public resources to be allocated to public-public partnerships ensuring that public sector best practices are shared among those requiring capacity building and training. We also support the call for domestic and international transaction taxes that would increase the revenues and capacity of governments to direct funding to public services.

2. Recognition of and respect for Indigenous Rights

We demand respect for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. We demand recognition of Indigenous knowledge, traditional, spiritual and cultural practices, and institutions of governance. 

3. Domestic right to water policies and National Action Plans

We demand member States comply fulfill their obligations under United Nations resolutions and covenants by reforming domestic laws to ensure that all people have the right to water and sanitation. Governments must commit to produce national action plans outlining how they will meet their obligations to respect, fulfill and protect this right.

Also we make an emphatic appeal to the national political authorities, not to give in to corporate interests and rigorously apply existing regulations that protect water sources. A public policy imperative should be the design and implementation of mechanisms for access to information to enable the participation of civil society, as a key player, in monitoring compliance with the Human Right to Water.

4. Non-Discrimination and Non-Regression:

We demand that UN Member States ensure that the principles of non-discrimination and non-regression are adhered to in all current and future actions related to the human right to water and sanitation. This includes respecting their obligations as the primary duty bearer for the human right to water and sanitation and ensuring that there are clear protections and remedies in cases where the private sector interferes with enjoyment of the human right to water and sanitation.

5. An end to loan conditionalities that impose privatization

We demand an end to loan conditionalities that impose privatization as well as domestic policies conducive to privatization on the part of international financial institutions.

Água de todos campaign

Blue Planet Project

Boletín Vertientes

Comité Departamental en Defensa del Agua y la Vida de Antioquia

Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila

Corporación ECOFONDO

Council of Canadians

European Federation of Public Service Unions

Federación española de Ingeniería Sin Fronteras

Food & Water Europe

Food & Water Watch

Forum italiano dei movementi per l'acqua

KRuHA (People's Coalition for the Right to Water) - Indonesia

National Alliance of People's Movements, India

PCN- Palenke del Alto Cauca

What you can do as individuals 

Our reports highlight campaigns for domestic and regional policies on the right to water in all our countries. Here are a few things you can do:

Sign the European Citizens' initiative calling on the European Union to guarantee water as a human right: http://www.right2water.eu/

Demand that the Canadian government take action on the human right to water: http://canadians.org/water/issues/right/index.html 

Visit Boletín Vertientes (Watershed Newsletter): researchers and activist from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Perú; www.boletinvertientes.org

facebook.com/boletinvertientes Twitter @equipovertiente

Ask the US Congress to ensure clean water and green jobs by signing the petition below to Renew America's Water.


If you are in Europe, join the European Water Movement - link up local and national fights to protect water as a commons at the European level. The European Water Assembly will be held at Firenze 10+10 from 8-11 November http://www.firenze1010.eu/index.php/en/. For more information Gabriella Zanzanaini: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Learn about the Platform for Public-Community Partnerships of the Americas: http://www.plataformaapc.org/

Sign the Portuguese Água de todos campaign www.aguadetodos.com

Endorse the Marseille Declaration for Palestinians Right to Water: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/marseille-declaration/

Sing the open letter to the President of Indonesia demanding implementation of the Right to Water: